Sarah Hagenbuch and Lori Jazwick: Help available for treating invasive weeds

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. The USDA Service Center's phone number is 970-879-3225.

The Routt County Conservation District has been awarded funds from the Colorado Department of Agriculture to monitor, map and treat specific weed populations in Routt County.

The eradication of meadow knapweed, or centaurea pratensis, will be the main focus in Routt County. Other species that will be considered for treatment are leafy spurge, houndstongue, tamarisk and toadflax, if these weeds are present on properties east of Hayden.

The county conservation district and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are looking for landowners who would be interested in receiving funds for weed control. An application review process will determine those landowners who show the best control or eradication plan with an emphasis on efforts beyond the focus year of 2009. All interested parties must sign an application for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, and must meet landowner and land eligibility requirements as set forth in the 2008 Farm Bill statues for EQIP.

If a landowner makes more than $1 million within a year and the majority of this income is not from agricultural products, the landowner is not eligible to participate in this program. If the landowner has received funds in the past for weed control, he or she is not eligible for this program, either. The landowner also must be able to show production of $1,000 worth of agricultural products on their land last year.

Once applications are chosen, a representative from the county district and the conservation service will visit each site and evaluate the weed problem, as well as map the specific infested sites. Once the maps are complete, the landowner will be given the choice of treating the weeds themselves, contracting with a county district or conservation service representative, or contracting private assistance. All treatments must occur before Nov. 1. After one season of treatment, the representative will return to the sites to re-evaluate and re-map to determine the success of the treatment. Treatments will be performed the second year on the remaining infestations and must be completed by Nov. 1, 2010. A third and final visit will be performed in the summer of 2011 to re-evaluate and re-map to determine the final success of the project treatment. The results will be given to the county district, the landowners, the county Cooperative Extension Office, the conservation service and state officials.

Participants in the program will need to fund at least half of the cost of the herbicide and the entire cost of labor, whether it be contracted or the landowner's own time. This grant opportunity will cover half the cost of herbicides or other treatments and may cover some labor, depending on herbicide costs.

Landowners interested in receiving funds to help control or eradicate meadow knapweed, leafy spurge, houndstongue, tamarisk and toadflax can call the USDA Service Center in the Pine Grove Building at 879-3225, ext. 3, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

All applicants must sign up for EQIP through the conservation service - call ahead to schedule a sign-up time.

Applications much be received by May 15 in order to be considered for funding.

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